Aslam Baloch, one of the founders and most prominent commander of Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) was killed on December 25, 2018 in Kandahar in an attack by a suicide bomber sent by Pakistan.
Aslam, along with five of his fellow members and commanders, was standing outside of a house when a suicide bomber came there on foot in disguise of a passerby and rushed standing right in front of Aslam before exploding himself.
Aslam Baloch was seriously injured and five of his senior colleagues were killed on spot. No group claimed the responsibility for the high profile assassination. However, soon after the unfortunate incident Sarfraz Bugti, ex-Pakistani minister cheered and called the incident a "good news for Pakistan on Jinnah’s birthday”.
Sarfaraz Bugti, presently a senator of Pakistan and a former home minister of Balochistan’s puppet government, is known as a close aide of Pakistan army and spy agencies and is behind running a private militia against Baloch freedom fighters in natural gas rich district of Dera Bugti, Balochistan.
“Great news for #Pakistan on Quaid's birthday!
Aslam Achoo, who was the mastermind of terror attack against Chinese nationals in #Dalbandin and a foiled attack targeting consulate attack in #Karachi, has been killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan”, Sarfaraz tweeted.
Like Sarfraz Bugti, Lijian Zhao, the Deputy Chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad, also welcomed and cheered the news of the suicide bombing.
"This is a good development for security and peace in the province,” Lijian Zhao told The National.
Though no group claimed responsibility, it is widely believed the suicide attack was an act of revenge for the attack on Chinese consulate at Karachi on November 23, 2018.
To Afghan officials, Aslam Baloch’s assassination bore the hallmarks of an operation directed by Pakistan’s military intelligence service, the ISI. Tadin Khan, the police chief of Kandahar said that the bomber was sent and guided by the I.S.I.
Initially some thought Afghan Taliban might be behind the attack but the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denounced their involvement stating: “The incident in Kandahar and the killing of any Baluch has nothing to do with us.”
The Pakistan army and intelligence agencies specially the ISI has long owned a well established infrastructure and enormous experience of recruitment, brainwashing, training, equipping and using terrorists as suicide bombers in the name of jihad. There’s likelihood that ISI may, apart from a huge number of its sponsored jihadi organizations as strategic assets, has a cell of its own suicide bombers. The suicide bomber who sent kill Aslam Baloch might have belonged to that particular cell of ISI.
The two consecutive attacks of BLA one on a bus at Dalbadin which was carrying Chinese personnel working in Saindak gold and copper mines and other assault on Chinese consulate at Karachi may have brought enormous pressure on Pakistan from Chinese authorities and prompted the assassination plan of Aslam Baloch, but it was not the only reason for the assassination. In fact prior to that fatal assault, Pakistan army and intelligence agencies had made various attempts to kill Aslam Baloch including once where he had sustained serious injuries in a military operation in Bolan, Balochistan.
Aslam Baloch has since long been at the hit-list of Pakistani security forces because not only was he a brave warrior but also an expert of guerrilla warfare. During the ongoing armed resistance of Balochistan’s freedom movement, he had gained enough experience and skills in guerrilla warfare and had emerged as a great strategist, a foresighted leader committed to the cause of freedom of Balochistan. According to available information on record, when his eldest son Rehan Baloch expressed his willingness to join the "Majeed Shaheed Brigade" of BLA, he happily inducted him in the ranks of said brigade and allowed him to carry out the mission of assaulting Chinese personnel in Dalbadin.
It were his such multi dimensional qualities that made him a high profile target for the enemies of Baloch freedom movement. On the other hand, same characteristics of him contributed a lot in his popularity and reliability among the ranks and files of BLA, the Baloch resistance circle and masses.
This fact is apparent in the decision conferring upon him the honorary title of "General " by BLA in acknowledgment of his great services and sacrifices for the freedom of Balochistan.
Assassination of Aslam Baloch isn’t merely a murder but it’s an act of terrorism committed directly by Pakistani ISI on the soil of Afghanistan, in sheer violation of the sovereignty of Afghanistan and international laws but neither Afghan government strongly protested against this obvious violation of its sovereignty nor the United Nations or any other international institution or power questioned Pakistan for using suicide bombing, as a means of eliminating a dissent. It’s a worst act of state terrorism. Ignoring the Terror incident of Aslam Baloch’s assassination amounts an obvious impunity for Pakistan. Such an impunity even the US does not enjoy in the war on terrorism. It must be remembered that when US forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, Pakistan very strongly condemned and termed the operation a violation of its sovereignty. Osama was a UN designated terrorist and internationally wanted one, for whose killing or capturing Pakistan was receiving billions dollars from the US but Aslam Baloch wasn’t a terrorist. He obviously was a freedom fighter contesting against Pakistani forcible occupation and plundering of Balochistan.
According to international laws, norms and practice, the Baloch freedom fighters cannot be termed as terrorists because they are fighting a war of liberation against Pakistani unlawful occupation of their fatherland Balochistan. They are fighting against Pakistani colonial rule, state oppression and plundering of their natural resources. International laws don’t forbid and condemn national liberation movements. Similarly, the Baloch war of national liberation cannot be equated with terrorism motivated by religious extremism and hatred.
The writer is Ex Secretary General of Baloch National Movement (BNM) and tweets at @RahimBalochh